William Shakespeare, Bell’s Edition of Shakespeare’s Plays.

London: Printed for John Bell, 1774.

Rare PR2752 .B44 1774 1

400th Anniversary of the Death of William Shakespeare (April 23rd)

His fellow playwright Ben Jonson once described William Shakespeare as ‘not of an age, but for all time’, and the 400 years since Shakespeare’s death have proved the truth of this assessment. Although his reputation waned somewhat towards the end of the 17th century, by the 18th century he was established as England’s national poet – known simply as ‘the Bard’ – and his works have retained an unrivaled popularity ever since.

Shakespeare’s works have gone through countless editions and been translated into dozens of languages, among which are a translation into Thai by the King of Siam (included below). The rise in Shakespeare’s popularity over the 18th century saw the publication of several editions, including one by John Bell (shown at left), whose multi-volume series of works by British playwrights and poets did much to bring literature to a wider audience.

Shakespeare has also attracted the attention of the modern fine press movement, beginning with the Kelmscott Press’s edition of The Poems of William Shakespeare. The Doves Press edition of Coriolanus, also included below, reproduces the text of the play published in the first folio of 1623 and features the famous Doves type.